Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Sandra Cunningham and Senator Linda Greenstein today praised the work of the Reentry Services Commission and its recommendations to reduce barriers and enhance opportunities for the successful transition of former prisoners into society.
The 14-member commission, established by the Legislature last year, today released its report outlining recommendations to improve the delivery of reentry services to enhance the ability of former offenders to maintain sobriety, healthy living and employment, all keys to successful reentry. The comprehensive report focuses on five major areas: healthcare, addiction treatment, employment, legal services and housing.
“The successful reentry of former offenders is a proven way of reducing recidivism and improving their opportunities to be successful members of society. This is an issue of social justice, community safety, cost reductions and equal opportunity. We know that reentry can succeed, but we need to remove the barriers and provide the services that will allow people to make a success of their lives. Everyone deserves a second chance and we need to give them fair opportunities to succeed,” said Senate President Sweeney, who sponsored the legislation that created the Reentry Services Commission.
“While the state has taken significant strides in creating an environment conducive to the rehabilitation of individuals being released from prison, there continue to be significant barriers to successful reentry in healthcare, addiction, employment, legal services, and housing. Formerly incarcerated individuals have significantly higher rates of physical and mental health issues, making access to screening and healthcare during incarceration and to transitional services upon release essential to successful reintegration. This report provides a blueprint for change that will help them succeed,” said Senator Cunningham, who served on the Reentry Services Commission.
“Research has shown that the best way to overcome the barriers that inhibit a former offender’s ability to succeed in reentry is to begin to act on day one of incarceration. Once an individual reenters society, their likelihood of becoming a contributing member of their community is dependent on whether they can secure meaningful employment, find a place to live, and have the education and skills necessary to advance in life,” said Senator Greenstein, who sponsored the legislation that created the Reentry Services Commission.